Judicial Administration

February 6, 2015 | Category: Administration

The Senate Judiciary Committee heard SB 90 concerning address confidentiality authored and presented by Sen. Steele.  The bill was amended by the Committee and includes judicial officers within the definition of a law enforcement official for purposes of these provisions to allow law enforcement officials the ability to require public agencies, via an application, to keep the official’s home address confidential, provides limited exceptions to permit address disclosure, permits the official to substitute a P.O. Box on documents issued by the public agency, provides for the expiration of such applications.  After taking supporting testimony on the amended bill from Indiana State Police and Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Association, the bill passed as amended 8-0.

The Senate Judiciary Committee heard SB 150 authored by Sen. Lanane creating an additional Madison circuit court magistrate. Madison Circuit Court Judges Clem and Happe testified to the need for an additional judicial officer to handle the circuit court’s workload. Sen. Tallian offered an amendment adding a magistrate position to the Porter Circuit Court. The amendment was adopted by consent. Both magistrate positions were approved by the Interim Study Committee on Courts and the Judiciary. The amended bill passed 8-0.

The Senate Judiciary Committee heard SB 292 concerning St. Joseph County courts authored and presented by Sen. Zakas.  The bill adds additional magistrates for the circuit court and superior court.  The Committee adopted an amendment by consent to section 1 of the bill to provide that political affiliation could not be considered in appointing the magistrates.  Judge Jenny Pitts Manier, St. Joseph Superior Court, testified in support of the bill, which the Committee passed as amended 8-0.

The Senate Judiciary Committee also heard SB 409 concerning court fees authored and presented by Sen. Merritt. The bill reinstates the mortgage foreclosure counseling and education court fee of $50 until July 1, 2017.  Elizabeth Dalton, Division of State Court Administration, testified in support and explained to the Committee how a portion of these fees provide court facilitators.  After receiving other supporting testimony, the Committee passed the bill 8-0.

The Senate Judiciary Committee heard SB 547 on veterans and courts. Author Sen. Zakas testified that the bill makes appropriations to the Indiana Judicial Center to assist in the development of veterans’ courts statewide. The bill also authorizes (1) veterans’ courts to accept individuals from another county, (2) mandates the establishment of a veterans’ court in each judicial district, (3) requires the Judicial Conference of Indiana Board of Directors to adopt rules governing the transfer of veterans among jurisdictions for the purposes of participation in a veterans’ court, (4) requires designated state agencies to seek funding for veterans’ courts, and (5) authorizes courts to consider as a mitigating factor that an individual convicted of a crime is a veteran who has certain conditions that favor suspending the sentence. Jane Seigel, Executive Director, and Mary Kay Hudson, Director of Court Services, of the Indiana Judicial Center provided the Committee with the current status of veterans’ courts in Indiana. Madison Circuit Court Judge Clem, the Indiana Bar Association, the Military and Veterans Coalition of Indiana and the Disabled American Veterans testified in support of the bill. The bill passed 8-0.

The House Courts and Criminal Code Committee heard Rep. Richardson’s HB 1373 on circuit court clerks. This bill requires a fee for filing a petition with a court for the expungement of a person’s record of arrest or conviction. It also requires a person who requests a circuit court clerk to send an additional mailing by registered or certified mail to provide an addressed envelope with postage prepaid, the United States Postal Service forms for registered or certified mail, and the United States Postal Service fee for service by registered or certified mail. The bill provides that any fees collected by the circuit court clerk for preparing a transcript or copy of a record are deposited in the clerk’s records perpetuation fund (instead of the county general fund). Clerks representing the Clerks’ Association testified in support of the bill. The bill passed 12-0.

The House Courts and Criminal Code Committee heard HB 1425, authored by Rep. McMillin and Rep. Steuerwald, on court fees. The automated record keeping fee is currently $7, but will  decrease to $5 on July 1, 2015. This bill increases the automated record keeping fee collected after June 30, 2015 to $9. This bill also provides that 100% of the automated record keeping fee is distributed to the Auditor of State for deposit in the state user fee fund. This bill also increases the document storage fee from $2 to $4. Justice David and Judge Mathias testified about the importance of funding court technology, and that $9 is a necessary fee. Henry County Judge Mary Willis testified about the importance of Odyssey. County Clerks Association testified against the bill because of the how the fee is divided between counties. The owner of Doxpop, a private sector vendor, echoed the County Clerks Association’s viewpoint. CSI, another private sector vendor, testified about working with the State to connect data and that it is important that this bill move forward. Although the need for amendment was discussed, no amendments were heard. The bill passed 10-1 and was recommitted to Ways and Means.